MEMPHIS, Tenn. — `Memphis firefighters and ATF investigators spent Tuesday afternoon picking through charred remnants of an historic Uptown church building.
The building, which is located on Henry Avenue near North Second Street, is owned by Pastor Ricky Floyd’s Pursuit of God church, but Floyd said he had begun leasing it to Redemption Church last week.
Redemption Church Pastor Devin Westbrook said his congregation had held its first service inside the church on Sunday and that he, his son and another church leader were doing some painting at the church Tuesday when they noticed the fire around 12:45 p.m.
“He went outside and saw it, came and asked do we have a fire extinguisher. When I saw that the flames were a little too hot, I knew then it was probably a little bit more serious than just a little blaze,” said Westbrook.
The Memphis Fire Department was able to bring the fire under control and said the cause is still under investigation. There’s considerable damage to the church’s roof.
“It [the fire] did advance through the attic area very quickly,” said Lt. Wayne Cooke with MFD, who said a firefighter sustained a minor knee injury while fighting the fire.
“As a pastor, you think of the scripture: the gates of hell should not prevail against the church, man, you see a church building on fire,” said Floyd.
The church building dates back to 1942 and has hosted many congregations over the years. Floyd has offered to allow the Redemption Church congregation to hold next Sunday’s service at his Frayser church.
“Hearts, minds, money all invested in this. Time invested in this,” said Westbrook who insists he won’t be deterred by this setback.
“I’m expecting a miracle. I’m expecting God to show up in an amazing way,” he said.